The Apostle Paul has been arrested for causing a riot in Jerusalem. He’s on a ship headed to Rome to have his case tried by Caesar. Last week, Paul tried to warn the Roman Commander that if they tried to sail now, it would be disastrous, not only for the ship and the cargo, but also for the lives of everyone on board. The Commander ignored Paul’s warning and followed the advice of the captain and the crew. The majority decided that they should sail on.
Acts 27:13 “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.”
The most dangerous thing about rejecting what the Bible says is, when we first get started, a gentle south wind begins blowing and it looks like we were right and the people who were trying to stop us were wrong. Nothing bad is happening to us and it looks like everything’s going to be OK. When that gentle south wind is blowing, we think we’ve obtained what we wanted. We think God approves of what we’re doing.
Acts 27: 14-15a “Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called ‘the northeaster’ swept down from the Island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind”
“Before very long…” those soft gentle winds from the south became hurricane force winds blowing from the northeast. Living our own lives; making our own rules; designing our own spirituality can be enjoyable at the beginning. It’s a lot of fun when we first get started. But it doesn’t last. “Before very long” it all turns against us and the consequences of our selfish, stubborn behavior come back at us with hurricane force winds.
Acts 27:15b – “So we gave way to it and were driven along.”
We may start off thinking we’re in charge; but “before very long” we lose control. We become slaves of whatever we’ve opened ourselves up to. All we can do is give way to it and be driven along by it. There’s nothing we can do to stop it or to change it; nothing we can do to help ourselves or save ourselves. We become forced to go where sin wants to take us.
Acts 27:16 “As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboats secure.”
The lifeboats had always been able to save them before. When we’re facing a crisis, we try to cope with it by turning to the things that have always worked for us in the past. These are the pills you take. These are the books you read. These are the exercises you do. These are the foods you eat; the counselors you talk to. But as the storm keeps building and the winds keep getting stronger and stronger, those old life-boats become less and less secure and it keeps getting harder and harder for us to hold it all together
Acts 27:17a “When the men hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together.”
Science and technology are desperately trying to come up with solutions to hold this planet together.
Acts 27:17b – “Fearing that they would be run aground on the sandbar of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along.”
“They lowered the sea anchor.” If we can’t stop it, maybe we can slow it down a little. Everything is changing rapidly and spinning out of control. There’s nothing we can count on. Have you noticed a lack of stability in the world right now?
Acts 27:18a “We took such a violent beating from the storm
“We took such a violent battering from the storm.” That includes Paul’s friends and Luke who wrote those words. He’s letting us know that the believers on that ship were suffering from the storm too. They were not exempt from all the danger just because they were Christians. They realized the storm could have been avoided. They knew that ignoring God’s Word put everyone’s lives at risk. They were caught in that storm just like everybody else. They were on that ship so God could use them to save the other people on that ship. Christians are in this world to make a difference.
Acts 27:18b “The next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.”
They threw the cargo overboard. They threw all their stuff overboard; their things; their possessions; their means of income; those items they were bringing with them to sell or trade when they got to Rome. They tossed it all into the sea.
We start out pursuing “the American Dream” of making a lot of money so we can have a lot of things. But when we’re facing a crisis; when we lose our jobs or when someone we love becomes seriously ill; when we’re injured in an accident; we begin to re-think our priorities.
We start to look and think differently about what is truly valuable; what is most important to us. Those things we always thought we wanted; those things we worked so hard to get; those things we didn’t think we could live without are usually the first things we let go of. The cargo, all those seemingly important things, can be replaced. There’s nothing like an overwhelming crisis to help us put material things in their proper perspective.
Acts 27:19 “On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.”
Now they’re throwing the ship’s tackle overboard; all the equipment they were using to sail with. It’s what they’ve always depended on to get them were they wanted to go and move them safely through the storms. But none of these state-or-the-art, high-tech gadgets seem to be working anymore. None of the world’s latest advances, improvements or discoveries are making life any easier. They aren’t providing the answers. They can’t help us when we need it the most. We might as well toss it all into the sea.
Lord willing, we’ll pick up from here next Tuesday. Hope you’ll be back and invite some friends to get in God’s Word with Pastor Buj